Thursday, April 15, 2010

The timber sale

After a fine day on the water, some adult beverages, a hearty meal, and blistering hot sauna, we awoke to another unbelievably balmy morning last Sunday at the deer camp. It was decided over coffee that we would hike across the creek and check out the select cut that had been done over the winter. The early spring pushed the loggers to the limits and a large pile of timber is still out on the road because weight restrictions on the spring thaw softened gravel roads won't be lifted for a bit yet. Due to the heavy clay soil, most logging in the area is done in the winter when the ground is frozen to avoid rutting up the woods with the heavy equipment. I was a bit worried about what it would look like because I'd been staring at those trees for 25 years and, after all, the only person that truly welcomes change is a baby with a diaper full of you-know-what.

I was relieved when we crossed the creek and climbed the hill on the other side and saw lots of trees. The loggers had cut the areas that had been marked, avoided the RMZ (Riparian Management Zone or 'land on the creek banks' for acronym haters), left all the hardwoods and big white and red pines, and generally done an excellent job. The pockets where the aspen was clear cut will come back as aspen unless we decide to keep it as game openings and we plan on planting white pine seedlings. These will require either protective cages or annual applications of deer repellent to keep the few deer that have survived the brutal wolf predation (according to the barroom biologists anyway) from eating the trees. According to the Podman and CounselerMatt, there were at least 100 deer in the area, eating the aspen tops in the winter, while the timber cutting was on progress. I was very proud of our little wolf pack on the hike over to the cut. I found the beaver skull in the photo, which just far enough away from the creek to indicate that the wolves caught him before he got back to the water and his aspen cutting.

The early spring is well underway too. None of the trees even have a hint of leafing out yet but the ferns and the wildflowers are blooming nicely. The woods are drying up, a bit too dry in fact, and the ticks are out in full force. The bear are up and at em' and as you can see from the image, don't seem to be too afraid of hanging out in the yard of the camp.

Even though I will miss gazing at the big bolt sized aspen as I sit in my deer stand, I'm happy that the select cut looks good and the forest is rejuvenating itself. I'm also happy that the timber sale money will be heading to Woody and my pockets rather than watching the beaver cut down the big trees and have them rot on the ground. As the abandoned beaver dam in the image indicates, they are indeed industrious and can do a ton of damage. Blog readers should also be happy that they will continue to have newspapers to read, nice flooring and finishing lumber to build with, and soft fluffy toilet paper to complete one's morning bidness. In 3-5 years the cut will be hard to spot and the remaining trees will 'release', growing bigger and faster than when they were in the shade of the big aspen. It seems like its another one of those win-win situations.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a happy forest. It is so sad to hear about those big clearcut mountainsides.

I know it's a lot harder and more expensive to not clearcut, and we all pay the expense when we buy toilet paper, but it's worth it in the end.

DaveO said...

Even around here, looking at a little 80 acre clearcut is a depressing thing. The landowner can do what they want to with their timber and some choose what I think of as butchery. You are correct Stevie, its a pretty happy forest.